UKSB graft trial: Why single out Zahid? Other political figures also received funding, says defence

SHAH ALAM: Former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has been subjugated to selective and politically motivated persecution, the court hears.

This was one of the arguments put forth by his defence team in their submission at the end of the prosecution's case.

Ahmad Zahid’s lead counsel Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, argued that two of the prosecution’s witnesses had also said the monies given to the Umno president were political donations.

He added that several other political figures had also received funds from the same sources.

“Why only charge him when the others were not?” asked Hisyam.

Ahmad Zahid was charged with 33 counts of receiving bribes from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) during his tenure as home minister in order to extend the company’s contract to continue operating the one-stop centre in China and the Foreign Visa System (VLN).

The alleged graft was also to ensure that the contract agreement for the supply of the VLN integrated system by the company is maintained.

He was also levelled with seven additional charges for allegedly procuring for himself S$1.15 million, RM3 million, 15,000 Swiss francs and US$15,000 in his capacity as the home minister.

During cross examination by the prosecution, UKSB former directors VK Lee and David Tan had stated that the funds given to Ahmad Zahid was contribution meant for political funding.

The duo also testified that others who received political funding from their company included former prime ministers Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, former Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, former foreign minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (who was at that time home minister), Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican (who was then deputy foreign minister), former transport minister Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy, former second minister of international trade and industry Tan Sri Ong Ka Chuan and Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan.

But all those who were named have since denied that they had received political funding from UKSB.

The defence counsel also said that there was already a precedent set that accepting political funding was not unlawful.

He cited the Court of Appeal decision in former federal territories minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor’s case which acquitted him of graft for receiving money from a businessman to fund two by-elections in 2016.

Hisyam also questioned the credibility of the three former UKSB directors named in the case VK Lee, Tan and another former director Wan Quoris Shah Wan Abdul Ghani.

“They are accomplices of the highest order. They have no credibility and there are contradictions in their evidence,” he said.

Hisyam concluded that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against Ahmad Zahid.

He added that Ahmad Zahid should be acquitted due to being selectively persecuted as well as due to the non-credibility of the main witnesses.

Judge Yazid Mustafa set Monday (Sept 5) for the prosecution to rebut the defence’s argument.

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